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A New Foundation for Liberty


Through the history of mankind, we have endured many forms of government. Everything from tyranny (consent by lack of revolution) to democracy (consent by majority vote) has been tried, and many shades in between. The Libertarian principle of government is based on the concept of a necessary evil; there must be a government to protect the citizens in the ways that only concerted action and compulsive force can, but that compulsive force it itself evil; therefore the use of force is minimized to the extent that the government remains able to carry out its functions.

Advocates of anarchy propose complete individual freedom with no central authority, but history tells us that anarchy is unstable; government will arise from within or be imposed from without. The Libertarian goal must then be to minimize government without surrendering to anarchy; sufficient power must be concentrated in the government to repel foreign invaders and protect the rights of the citizens from each other, but that power must be strictly limited to prevent tyranny.

The history of America is the history of a Libertarian government hamstrung by the inability to obtain true consent from its citizens. Without the resources to obtain affirmative consent to the Constitution from every citizen, our founding fathers were forced to elect representatives as proxies, and employ the strategy of federalism to retain the local flexibility and accountability necessary for a government to respect the wishes of the people. The use of representatives elected by majority vote, subordinate to the law, restrained in their powers by a written Constitution, and separated into smaller, nearly-autonomous regions directly responsible to their citizens was a tremendous leap forward for Liberty. But inevitably, there were those who did not agree to the new social contract.

Some were conquered. Some were never granted the right to vote. Some owned no property. Some were enslaved. Some were women. Some were children. And some were simply outvoted. But they all had a new government imposed upon them against their will, and were faced with a choice: leave your home and return to lands which you prefer, under a government which you prefer, or submit to our government. In those days, it was still possible to leave your nation and join another. Today, it is much more difficult.

But now, with computer and communication technology our forefathers could never have dreamed of, we can do better. Indeed, we must do better. There is no frontier left; no place where the malcontents can flee to in order to escape an oppressive government. The federal government of the United States has absorbed the powers of the states into itself, turning what were once very nearly separate sovereign nations into mere arms of a many-tentacled beast. It is no longer possible to choose the government you live under by moving from state to state. The long arm of the Federal government will reach you throughout the states, and even into the other nations upon the earth, should you attempt to escape (without paying your taxes).

We must therefore respect rights of the individual far more than in the past, where the frontiers offered the opportunity to escape and begin anew. We can now implement a government that functions on the principle of affirmative consent, and therefore, we must: it is the least intrusive government still capable of protecting its citizens. The Leviathon of the United States has abandoned the remnants of its Libertarian foundation, and those who yearn for freedom must begin anew.

To understand the Libertarian principle of government as applied in the American Revolution, read The Consent of the Governed. To understand how a government based on affirmative consent can be established, read Obtaining Unanimous Consent. And to understand how such a government might function in a liberty-maximizing fashion, read Governing by Consent.


This entry was published 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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